Off- Broadway, BAM and Scott Rudin presented the Goodman Theatre's production of the revival of The Iceman Cometh, by Eugene O'Neill, directed by Robert Falls. I ventured to Brooklyn to see this splendid production. It was worth the long trip from Manhattan. It is a four act play, with a running time of four hours and 45 minutes, including three intermissions. Nathan Lane and Brian Dennehy head the 18 member cast, and each and everyone give superb performances portraying alcoholics and prostitutes in Harry Hope's saloon in New York. Although the play is overlong and repetitious, the world of losers living worthless lives is riveting to watch. It had a strong effect on me. I have made the decision now to have an alcoholic drink only on two occasions, when I am alone or with someone.
The Cause Celebre Tribute to Elaine Stritch and Marian Seldes. The Ladies Who Lunched With Us! was a lovely event for two legendary actresses at 3 West. 3 West 51st St. There was songs sung by Penny Fuller, accompanied by Billy Goldenberg, a play reading with Fuller and Jennifer Harmon, and spoken tributes by Elizabeth Wilson and Fritz Weaver. There were wonderful film clips and photos of Elaine Stritch and photos of Marian Seldes (four of mine of the two actresses included). A reception followed the delightful program. Artistic Director Susan Charlotte is to be congratulated on a memorable program.
Film Society Lincoln Center and MoMA presented press screenings for New Directors/New Films March 18-29. The Diary of a Teenage Girl, by Marielle Heller, USA, 2014, features a remarkable performance by Bel Powley in the title role as a 15-year-old high school student discovering her sexuality. Unfortunately, she initiates her sexual life with her mother's boyfriend (Alexander Skarsgard). Problems arise. As an insecure girl, she experiments with alcohol, drugs, lesbianism and engages in sex with other boys. The film is a graphic description of a young girl's life without guidance at a crucial time. The acting is first-rate, and the film leaves a profound impression on the viewer.
Violet, by Bas Devos, Belgium/Netherlands, 2014, begins in a mall, where a teenager is attacked by two punks and killed. His friend with him is traumatized. The film is too pretentious for words. It is almost a silent film. We see the male friends on their bikes, engaging in leaps while riding. The camera travels the streets where the surviving teenager lives with his supportive mother and father in a middle class neighborhood. But the silent scenes are generally boring, without much significance.
Tired Moonlight, by Britini West, USA, 2014, is a self indulgent film about the filmmaker's home town, Kalispell, Montana. It begins with a middle-aged woman urinating in a field. and she constantly reappears in her home, and in a motel with an unattractive man. It is not a pleasant sight. We are forced to listen to inane poetry, watch three children play, attend a motorcar race, and a carnival, see many fireworks explode on independence day, and there is what appears to be a graveyard for mobile homes. After seeing this film, I doubt if anyone would take a trip to this town, in spite of the state's beautiful scenery.
The Creation of Meaning/ La creazione di significato, by Simone Rapisada Casanova, Canada/Italy, 2014, is beautifully photographed, and as a travelogue it would make
the Apennine mountains of Tuscany a tourist attraction. To remember the horrible massacres of World War II by the Germans is laudable, but the film wanders around like a home made movie. The dialogue is repetitious and irritating. To
watch grownup men playing at fighting the Germans is silly. To watch an interminable conversation between a German with his baby son on his knee and an Italian peasant is interminable,
and two adults have no business having a conversation, while
a baby is monopolizing the attention of the viewers. I could go on, but what is the point. I am sorry that gentrification is taking over the area, but it is also happening in Brooklyn, and I do
hope that I do not have to see a film about that.
The Fool, by Yuriy Bykov, Russia, 2014, is a powerful film, and is one of the highlights of the series. Dima (Artyom
Bystrov) is a plumber, studying to be an engineer, in a small town in Russia. The mayor is celebrating her birthday with all
her corrupt bureaucrats at a restaurant, when he barges in to tell her that an old building, housing 820 people, is in danger of collapsing. What follows is a penetrating look at corruption in
the country. The actors are magnificent. It is certainly one of
the finest films that I have seen this year. If I could, I would nominate it for an Oscar.
Haemoo, by Shim Sung-bo, South Korea, 2014, is based on a real incident. It is a brutal tale of a Korean fishing boat,
smuggling illegal Korean-Chinese immigrants to South Korea. It ends in tragedy. Many of the scenes are gruesome, and hard to watch. One of the crew members, Dong-sik (Park Yu-chun) falls in love with one of the women, Hong-mae (Han Ye-ri),
and we watch his attempts to protect her. But the relentless horrors that take place on board the boat, will turn off many viewers. It is photographed magnificently, and the storm
scenes are wonderful. The acting is terrific.
Tu dors Nicole, by Stephane Lafleur, Canada, 2014, is
about a 22-year old young girl (Julianne Cote) left alone in
her parent's house during the summer. Her older brother,
a rock musician joins her, with two members of his band, and play horrible, loud music throughout the film. She spends a
boring summer, fighting with her best girlfriend, being fired
from a dull job, babysitting a weird young boy, eating ice cream and buying a plane ticket to Iceland for no discernible reason.
If you enjoy watching boring characters, you might enjoy this
film. I was bored.
White God, by Kornel Mundruczo, Hungary, 2014, is a powerful film, which is basically about the friendship between a 13-year-old girl and her mixed breed dog, named Hagen. She, unwillingly, is forced to stay with her divorced father, when her mother has to go to Australia for three months. When the father throws the dog out of his car, we see her searching to find him and to be reunited with the dog she loves. It becomes an adventure story, but a grim, depressing one, when we see the
dog being ill treated by other human beings. One man trains
him to fight other dogs, and those scenes are bloody and
brutal. When Hagen escapes from a dog pound, with a horde
of other dogs, they take their revenge on human beings, killing many of them. The photography is remarkable, but even more amazing is the wonderful acting of Hagen, a dog I want to nominate for a Canine Academy Award.